The Stinging Fly is the name of the premiere Dublin literary magazine founded in 1997 to create a forum for emerging Irish writers. Now the magazine and its increasingly famous writers are coming to New York for the first ever Stinging Fly reading and interview series and the plan is to make as big a splash as possible (a series of lively discussions, reading and talkbacks will be held on October 25 through 27 at various locations throughout the city).
'The writers we’re bringing over are Irish writers we’ve been associated with for a few years,' says Stinging Fly editor Declan Meade. 'It’s work that we want to showcase. And we’ve also asked Irish writers who live here in New York to contribute to the event as well. So the works will be from the perspective of people who live here and from the people we’re bringing over from Ireland.'
Not only a magazine, but now also a publishing press, in recent years The Stinging Fly has become the recognized launch pad for a new generation of Irish talent. Created as the Celtic Tiger economy was taking flight, since that time it has helped launch the careers of writers like Emma Donoghue, Eamon Grennan, Kerry Hardie, Michael Harding, Claire Keegan and James Kelman.
'At the time we set it up back in the late 1990’s I had just come to Dublin and I was meeting young writers and the common complaint was there was nowhere to publish their work,' says Meade. 'I decided to set up the magazine with my friend Aoife Kavanagh. Neither of us knew anything about what we were doing, we really just wanted to see if the work was out there. Well it turns out it was out there and so we began to publish it. We started up very small and it’s built up over time.”
Early on they found themselves facing the dilemma of what to do when a short story writer deserved to have an entire collection published? The response was to set up their own publishing press. 'Everything we’ve done has grown organically from the question what is missing for new Irish writers? Our main focus has always been new writers coming up and the new writing that’s out there.'
Early in its operation the magazine also started interviewing more established writers on their way to international fame like Colum McCann and Emma Donoghue and giving them a forum too. For the first time The Stinging Fly was creating a real community of new Irish writers, albeit with a particular interest in promoting the short story form.
Writers need readers of course; it’s what publishing is all about. The Stinging Fly has succeeded in Ireland because it has successfully developed an audience and now they feel it’s time for it to grow, by introducing a new American dimension.
'It’s a great opportunity for our writers and hopefully it’ll be a great opportunity for the magazine in terms of new readers as well,' says Meade with characteristic understatement (the fact is that the Stinging Fly reading series has been slated as one of the top cultural events of the autumn so expect standing room only crowds).
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Irish writers slated to attend include Aifric Mac Aodha, Emer Martin, Sean O’Reilly and Keith Ridgway. All the events are free and everyone is welcome to attend. 'We believe that there is a need for a magazine that, first and foremost, gives new and emerging writers an opportunity to get their work out into the world,' says Meade.
In the spirit of openness and inclusivity Meade and the Stinging Fly organizers (which include Imagine Ireland) have also opened a space on their website for debut writers to write up their New York stories and experiences.
'Even if you have never been there yourself, chances are you know someone who has ended up calling New York their home,' says Meade. 'So you’re welcome to share your story there - or to just read other peoples.'
On Tuesday, October 25 at 7:00 PM at the Center For Fiction at 17 East 47 Street Nick Laird, Emer Martin, Sean O’Reilly and Keith Ridgway discuss the literary and cultural connections between Dublin and New York, and share their experiences of writing at home and away.
On Wednesday October 26 at 8:00 PM Aifric Mac Aodha, Sean O’Reilly and Keith Ridgway and Max McGuinness will read at Colombia University at 116 Street and Broadway. And finally on October 27 at 7:00PM Ciaran Berry, Tim Dwyer, Martin Espada, Emer Martin, David McLoghlin, Idra Novey, Jana Prikryl, Mark SaFranko and others will read at the Swift Hibernian Lounge at 34 East 4 Street. For further information and tickets visit www. http://www.stingingfly.org